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Love Island USA: What did viewers and critics think?

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Zac and Elizabeth from Love Island USAImage copyright
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Zac and Elizabeth shared the $100,000 (£82,000) prize

The first US series of Love Island concluded on Wednesday – with Zac and Elizabeth crowned the winning couple.

The series has been running for the last four weeks and has seen Islanders coupling up (and of course re-coupling) in a new villa in Fiji.

The show began in the UK, where it has grown into a huge hit.

CBS, the network broadcasting the US series, has a lot riding on the show after winning a bidding war for the rights last year.

So how has it gone down? And will it be coming back?

How has it done in the ratings?

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CBS

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Love Island has already been re-commissioned for a second series in the US

The US version of Love Island has been averaging 2.6 million viewers per episode.

That may not sound very impressive – after all, the most recent UK series often attracted more than twice that, despite having only one fifth of the US population.

But Love Island has much more competition in the US, where there are other hit dating shows such as ABC’s The Bachelor, which began in 2002 and prompted several spin-offs including The Bachelorette.

Also – it has taken five series for Love Island to become the smash hit it is in the UK. The first series brought in around 500,000 viewers to ITV2, but the recent series peaked at more than six million.

CBS will be hoping for a similar upward trend for the second series, which has already been commissioned.

Who has been watching?

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CBS

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The villa is in Fiji but features a lot of the same elements as the Majorca one – like the fire pit

Like in the UK, while it may not necessarily be the highest-rating show on TV, Love Island has attracted a hard-to-reach audience.

“There’s no doubt [CBS] could’ve gotten as many eyeballs, or even more, by filling Love Island’s 8pm timeslot with reruns. It probably would’ve been cheaper, too,” wrote Josef Adalian in Vulture.

“But even if there were fewer viewers, the folks who did watch Love Island are arguably more valuable to CBS… They are younger, more engaged, and more of them are women.”

This reflects the UK demographic – where much of the audience is female and aged 16-34.

Last week, CBS Entertainment chief Kelly Kahl said Love Island had delivered “a really solid, consistent core audience comprised of people who don’t typically watch CBS”, adding that it was the network’s most-streamed show of the season – implying it was particularly popular with young audiences.

Notably, the show’s audience also remained fairly steady throughout the series – with those who watched the premiere mostly sticking with it for the next four weeks.

How is it different from the UK version?

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PA Media

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Amber and Greg were crowned the winners of the most recent British series

The format is largely the same – it’s mainly the contestants, location and series length that were different.

Comedian Arielle Vandenberg hosted the series, which debuted on 9 July. Matthew Hoffman took on the role of the show’s narrator – delivering similarly humorous commentary to the UK’s Iain Stirling.

While the UK version is filmed in Mallorca, the US version has been shot in Fiji, where the average temperature in July is around 26C.

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The four weeks makes it a shorter series than in the UK – but ITV2’s recently-announced winter version of Love Island will also be considerably shorter.

Like in the UK, the CBS show was broadcast every weeknight in one-hour episodes.

What did the critics think of the US version?

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CBS

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The Islanders are seen going on dates similar to those set up in the UK version

The reviews have been mixed, with many critics finding the show entertaining, but suggesting there’s room for improvement.

“The original batch of Islanders is extremely bland,” wrote Ben Travers on IndieWire, adding that the tasks hadn’t been particularly entertaining.

“Producer manipulation is nonexistent,” he wrote. “One game required Islanders to guess who was being targeted in fans’ insulting tweets, but that barely spurred any insecurities, let alone relationship problems.”

Vice’s Lauren O’Neill wrote: “It’s basically a carbon copy of the UK version, which is for the best. However, it’s let down by the fact the American contestants feel a bit more contrived than the UK ones, and the whole thing is: a) even less natural, and b) nowhere near as funny.”

But Vulture’s Kathryn VanArendonk said: “There is something about it, something about the insularity and banality of it all, that makes the show hard to quit.

“Are there more interesting things to watch? Sure. But is it nice to watch an unexpectedly gentle reality show about hot, superficial singles just trying their best to get along while wearing bikinis…? Strangely enough, for right now, it is.”

Viewers have been largely positive about the series on social media, but some have had a few suggestions of their own about how the series could be tweaked.

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Hitchhiker’s actor Stephen Moore dies aged 81

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Stephen Moore in the Student Prince

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Stephen Moore was described as the “most sweet, charming and affable of men”

Stephen Moore – known as the voice of Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy’s Marvin the Paranoid Android – has died aged 81.

He also played Adrian Mole’s father on TV, and the dad to Harry Enfield’s grumpy teenager Kevin.

Hitchhiker’s producer and director Dirk Maggs said Moore was the “most sweet, charming and affable of men”.

He paid tribute to “an amazing, varied career”, adding that he was best known for the role of Marvin.

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Moore was the voice of Marvin for five series of Hitchhiker’s on radio, and the 1980s TV adaptation

The first series of Hitchhiker’s appeared on Radio 4 in 1978, and after being adapted for TV in the 1980s, it returned to the airwaves in 2003.

In it Marvin is a failed prototype robot with “genuine people personalities”, which has led him to struggle with severe depression.

Maggs said: “That was the thing that won the hearts of people, Marvin is the most miserable character but people seem to love him.

“It was Stephen’s voice that made that happen.”

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PA Media

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The prolific actor also played teenage diarist Adrian Mole’s father George on TV

Alongside the paranoid android, Moore had a successful career on stage, TV and in film.

He was Major Robert Steele in Richard Attenborough’s A Bridge Too Far.

He played teenage diarist Adrian Mole’s father George on TV, and the dad of Melody and Harmony Parker on children’s show The Queen’s Nose.

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He also played the dad of grumpy teenager Kevin in Harry Enfield sketches

Maggs said: “I’ll always remember the story of him getting locked in a mic cupboard in the Paris studio at the BBC, and they forgot he was in there and went out to lunch.

“He was an infinitely professional actor, would put up with any discomfort and waited to play his part.

“And then outside the working situation he was the most sweet, charming and affable of men.”

Actor Ben Barnes – who worked with Moore in a West End production of The History Boys – wrote on Twitter that “he was a sensitive, brilliant actor and a funny, lovely man”.



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Robert Forster: Jackie Brown star dies aged 78

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Actor Robert Forster, who was nominated for an Oscar for his role in Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown, has died in Los Angeles aged 78.

The actor, born in Rochester, New York state, died on Friday of brain cancer.

It happened on the same day that El Camino, a film in which he had a role and which is based on the TV series Breaking Bad was broadcast on Netflix.

Forster also appeared in the Breaking Bad TV series as well as David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive and Twin Peaks.

He was best known for his roles in the latter part of his career following his appearance in Jackie Brown.

  • Quentin Tarantino’s ‘brilliant’ Hollywood return

Starring alongside Samuel L Jackson, Pam Grier and Robert De Niro, his performance was nominated for a best supporting actor Oscar.

The award eventually went to Robin Williams for his role in Good Will Hunting.

Forster is survived by his partner Denise Grayson. children Bobby, Elizabeth, Kate and Maeghen and four grandchildren.

Jackie Brown co-stars Samuel L Jackson and Pam Grier were among those to pay tribute.





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Angelina Jolie: Strong women are ‘shaped by men around them’

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Angelina Jolie, pictured at the London premiere of Maleficent: Mistress of Evil on Wednesday

Angelina Jolie has championed the role men can play in shaping the personalities of young girls.

The actress, who stars in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, also said female characters in films should not have to be portrayed as physically tough in order to be considered strong.

“I think that, so often, when a story’s told which says ‘this is a strong woman’, she has to beat the man, or she has to be like the man, or she has to somehow not need the man,” Jolie told journalists at the film’s launch.

Referring to her own character in the film and Princess Aurora, played by Elle Fanning, Jolie said: “We both very much need and love and learn from the men.

“And so I think that’s also an important message for young girls, to find their own power, but to respect and learn from the men around them.”

She added: “We have strong women, but the character that is wrong in the film and has to be taken out is also a woman. We show very diverse types of women, between our characters, but also we have extraordinary men in the film, and I really want to press that point.”

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, the sequel to 2014’s Maleficent, is released in the UK later this month and also stars Ed Skrein, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michelle Pfeiffer.

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Disney

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Elle Fanning and Michelle Pfeiffer also star in the film, which is the sequel to 2014’s Maleficent

Fanning, who reprises her role of Princess Aurora in the film, echoed Jolie’s comments and said her character’s strength is not necessarily physical, unlike many princesses in children’s films.

“Aurora’s strength is her kindness, and she stays very true to herself, which is something I wanted to keep in the film. She is soft and feminine and wants to be a wife and have babies, and that’s a beautiful, strong thing that isn’t portrayed a lot on screen.

“A lot of the princesses are like ‘we’re gonna make her a strong princess! And make her tough, so we’re gonna make her fight!’ And it’s like, is that what being a strong woman means? Like, we just have to have a sword and have armour on and go fight? Aurora can do that in a different way, in a pink dress, and it’s beautiful that she keeps her softness and vulnerabilities.”

‘How to use that power’

Many of the female leads in action or children’s films focus on the character’s physical strength. Wonder Woman, for example, or Merida in the Disney’s 2012 film Brave. Indeed, one of Jolie’s previous roles was playing action hero Lara Croft in Tomb Raider.

Explaining the premise of the Maleficent sequel, Fanning said: “Five years have passed in her life, and she’s now Queen of the Moors, and she has this new responsibility, and she’s trying to figure out who she is as a ruler and how to use that power.”

The movie’s plot sees Jolie’s Maleficent conflicted over her maternal feelings towards Aurora, and facing competition from the neighbouring Queen Ingrith (played by Michelle Pfeiffer).

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Disney

Queen Ingrith causes a rift between Maleficent and Aurora, when her son Prince Phillip proposes to the princess. Ingrith intends to use the marriage to divide humans and fairies, and it falls to Maleficent to stop the impending war.

Official reviews are still under embargo, but critics who attended early screenings of the film have been allowed to share their first impressions on Twitter.

“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is like Pirates of the Caribbean; there’s lots of convolution and contrivance, but has star power,” said Courtney Howard, who reviews films for Variety and Awards Circuit. “Angelina Jolie, Michelle Pfeiffer and Elle Fanning are a holy trinity with bumpy arcs.”

Scott Menzel, the editor of We Live Entertainment, described it as “a visually spectacular sequel that proves once again that Angelina Jolie was born to play the title character. [It’s] a modern day fairytale where badass women take centre stage. The battle sequences are epic and the costumes are stunning.”

“Angelina Jolie and Michelle Pfeiffer having a sass-off in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is every bit as good as you’d hope,” said Digital Spy. “The movie needs more of it, but it’s still a visually bold, fun and superior sequel.”

The film received its London premiere on Wednesday.

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PA Media

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Elle Fanning and Angelina Jolie both say physical strength are not what should make female characters strong

Fanning said: “I definitely felt a real responsibility to do the second film, the first film was the first film I’d ever done of that scale, and so many young kids saw the film, and especially young girls would come up to me, and they’d look at me as the character.

“So hearing that we’d be doing the sequel, I felt a responsibility to those girls for sure, and just to get to show Aurora as a young woman growing up. Obviously in the first film, I was 14 when I did that, and Aurora still has the qualities that she does of kindness, innocence and sweetness that she embodies, but it was so fun to come back.

“The three of us [Fanning, Jolie and Pfeiffer], we were there in the beginning, our relationships have changed and grown, I’m 21 now, so I wasn’t the kid on set anymore. I really felt accepted on set in a way. Especially with Michelle and Angelina, I felt like they included me as if I was one of their peers.”

Jolie says the films have come to reflect the life cycle of a woman – something that wasn’t necessarily the intention when the first movie was conceived.

“One of the interesting things is, without realising, we’ve hit the chapters of the growth of a woman,” she said. “Her birth, her christening, to being a little girl, a teenage girl, to now being a wife. And so in a way the chapters are following a few things, but one of them is how a woman grows and evolves.”

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